Several months ago, I posted about the capture of 13 "penis thieves" in the Congo who allegedly stole, or shrank, their victims' members. In the June issue of Harper's Magazine, Frank Bures tells of his travels to Africa in search of the penis thieves. During his quest, he riffs on the idea of "culture-bound syndromes" and "the interplay among culture, mind, and disease." From Harper's Magazine:
Wasiu, Bad Teeth told me, had gotten on the bus and sat down next to this woman. He didn’t have a watch, so he asked her what time it was. She didn’t know. Then the conductor came around and asked her for her fare. She didn’t have that either. As she stood up to get out of the bus, she bumped into Wasiu.
“Then,” he said, “Wasiu Karimu felt something happen in his body. Something not right. And he checked and his thing was gone.”
“Was it gone,” I asked, “or was it shrinking?”
“Shrinking! Shrinking! It was getting smaller.”
And as he felt his penis shrink, Wasiu Karimu screamed and demanded the woman put his penis back. The conductor told them both to get off the bus, and a crowd closed in on the accused, not doubting for an instant that the woman could do such a thing. But as soon as she saw trouble coming, Bad Teeth said, she replaced Wasiu’s manhood, so when the police took him down to the station, they thought he was lying and arrested him instead.
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